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New court documents show that body of rape victim was discovered 1 month after witness report

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FARGO, North Dakota — The body of a woman who was raped and murdered on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation was not discovered until more than a month after police were told it was in tall grass west of Fort Yates, new federal court documents show.

Lance Summers, 29, of Fort Yates is charged with murder and sexual abuse in the slaying of 38-year-old Natalie White Lightening of Cannon Ball. White Lightening was last seen by friends on March 17, and her body was discovered on April 22 by two people walking through the heavily vegetated area.

A recently unsealed affidavit shows that Fort Yates police received a call on the night of March 18 believed to be from Summers that there was an unresponsive woman lying in the field where White Lightening's body was later found. Summers and a 17-year-old boy, both of whom had been drinking, were arrested at the scene that night after a brief foot chase.

The affidavit said the boy was crying and told police "there is a woman out there" and "Natalie's still out there." Officers searched the field in darkness and were unable to find anyone.

U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon declined to comment because it's an open case.

Mario Red Legs, special agent in charge for the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs office that supervises Standing Rock tribal police, and federal public defender Neil Fulton did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Court documents show that White Lightening had been drinking heavily and was unconscious when Summers allegedly raped her. Summers began choking White Lightening with one hand on her throat, according to the affidavit.

When Summers and the boy realized White Lightening was not breathing, Summers allegedly took the cellphone from the boy and placed a call, according to the documents. After they'd been arrested and placed in the back of a squad car, Summers allegedly told the boy not to "say anything about this," documents say.

Summers' trial is scheduled for Dec. 2.

The Standing Rock reservation straddles the North and South Dakota border.

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